A's Bats Hot in Cubs Cactus League Opener
The Oakland A's outscored the Cubs 15-3 over the final eight innings to overcome a 4-0 1st inning deficit, pounding out 18 hits while thrashing the Cubs 15-7 in what was the Cubs 2011 Cactus League opener, played in 50 degree temperatures after an all-night rain before a disappointing crowd of only 6,892 at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, AZ, this afternoon.
The Cubs got off to a quick 4-0 lead in the bottom of the 1st against A's starter Travis Cahill. Lead-off man Kosuke Fukudome drew a walk, and advanced to 3rd base as Starlin Castro roped a single to RF. Castro stole 2nd base (uncontested), and Fukudome scored and Castro advanced to 3rd base on a Marlon Byrd line-drive RBI single to CF. Aramis Ramirez followed with an RBI single, and after Carlos Pena grounded into a 4-6 FC, Alfonso Soriano ripped an RBI double down the LF line, scoring Byrd and sending Ramirez to 3rd. Geovany Soto grounded an RBI single to LF to plate Ramirez, before Blake DeWitt grounded into a rally-killing inning-ending 6-3 DP.
Meanwhile, Carlos Zambrano was mowing down the A's over the first two innings on just 25 pitches (16 strikes), striking out Coco Crisp and Daric Barton to open the game (both swinging), and allowing just a lead-off walk in the top of the 2nd to Kurt Suzuki, who was immediately erased on an Andy LaRoche 4-6-3 ground ball DP. Zambrano's sinker was working well, and he dominated the A's hitters over his two innings of work, getting routine ground balls when he wasn't scoring a strikeout.
New Cub Matt Garza came into the game to start the 3rd, and proceeded to load the bases on two singles and a walk. Coco Crisp (batting left-handed) then unloaded a towering grand slam HR over the pavillion well beyond the RF fence, tying the game at 4-4 before Garza could retire a hitter. Garza did settle down a bit after that, allowing one more run on two hits while striking out one. For the day, Garza threw 36 pitches (24 strikes) with a 1/4 GO/FO in 2.0 IP. Garza will probably struggle some in the Cactus League, because he is a "fly-ball pitcher," and fly ball pitchers generally give up more runs in Arizona Spring Training games than they will during the regular season.
Although he did not walk anyone, Jeff Samardzija was behind on most of the hitters he faced in his one inning of work, allowing a run on two hits (a one-out double by Daric Barton followed by a Josh Willingham RBI single). Although he did allow a run on two hits, The Shark did get an inning-ending 6-4-3 DP where he shattered Andy LaRoche's bat.
Carlos Marmol struggled with his command in the 6th, but he did not allow a run in his one inning. Justin Berg, however, got hammered in the 7th as the A's broke the game open, allowing seven runs (all earned) on six hits and a walk, while retiring just one hitter. Berg is one of about ten pitchers battling for (likely) one open spot in the bullpen, and he did nothing to help himself with today's miserable performance.
John Grabow (who is a lock to make the Cubs Opening Day roster) had a poor outing, allowing a single, a double, and a triple (and two runs) in the top of the 8th.
The Cubs did mount minor rallies in the bottom of the 7th and in the bottom of the 8th, scoring one run in the 7th on a Max Ramirez bases-loaded SF to RF following Fernando Perez and Bryan Lahair singles and a Brett Jackson walk, and two more in the 8th on a Jeff Baker lead-off infield hit, a Darwin Barney double off the left-centerfield fence, and a Josh Vitters line-drive RBI single.
Alfonso Soriano had a nice day at the plate, collecting three hits (the 1st inning RBI double followed by singles in his next two ABs), and Starlin Castro had two singles (both line drives, both to the opposite-field), as did Marlon Byrd.
On defense, Blake DeWitt was charged with a missed-catch fielding error that really should have been scored a FC (the runner waa already safe at 2nd base when the throw arrived), Tyler Colvin bobbled two line drives to RF in the top of the 7th that resulted in runners scoring from 3rd base after they had held up, and CF Fernando Perez misplayed a routine fly ball to left-center into an extra-base hit.
The Cubs play the Brewers tomorrow at HoHoKam Park.
Schwarber's was hit hard, into cross wind
Fowler's was straight up, heyward followed it until it went out
Mama Schwarber wants to have a word with you.
Mrs Fowler would like a word with you.
It seems to be blowing a bit out to right but far less than yesterday and much cooler so shouldn't be too much of an effect.
Only one of our hrs last night was out because of the wind though I think.
Which direction is wind blowing today? With Lackey a groundball pitcher, it might help Cubs if it is blowing in today and a 2-1 game instead of a 10-6 game.
I have convinced myself that Hammel's second half struggles were due to minor injuries and fatigue so with the extra rest he is going to be lights out.
Benji Molina is out of lineup
Yes. Unfortunately, as many of us, I have seen this movie before. Do not care for Hammel, and unlike other managers Joe will pull the plug quickly at least. I hope before things were to get out of hand.
Many of us are like "abused spouses" or whatever - with this Cubs stuff. You get hurt so many times, the trust rapidly erodes.
If the Cubs can get to Lackey early, its gonna be a big key to a W or L.
No idea what will happen. The Cards are the Cards and they have come back from 2-1 holes twice in the last 4 years, so I don't see them in panic mode at all. If anything, I expect the Cubs to be pressing more than the Cards today.
I want the Cubs to win because it would be great for the city, and great for the fans. But more than anything, I want the Cubs to win so I can see this team play for at least one more week this year. Never enjoyed watching a team more than this year.
Just to remember how far we have come: last year's opening day lineup was Bonifacio, Lake, Castro, Rizzo, Olt, Castillo, Schierholz, Barney, and Samardzija. It's been a fun ride this year!
BRADSBEARD: I haven't noticed any new rule or a change in the interpretation of an existing rule happening in Advanced Instructs, I don't know what rules will be tested in the AFL, although almost all recent rule changes and new interpretations of existing rules (the home plate collision rule, replay, time clock between innings, et al) do get their start in the AFL.
AZ Phil: I've heard that the AFL will be testing out a new force out rule that would affect break-up plays (like the Utley play). Have you heard anything about this new rule and any details about it? Are they testing it out at the advanced instructs as well?
Pretty sure I already know the answer to this, but since I will be in NYC next week I want to confirm... If the Cubs were to advance to the NLCS, the winner of LAD/NYM would have home field based on being a division winner (as opposed to Cubs by virtue of better record), correct?
CUBSTER: This "hammy" is on the other leg I heard last night. See you at the ballyard today young man!